Tag Archives: audiobook narration

ACX Storytellers: Tim Grahl

Author Tim Grahl recently completed his production of Your First 1,000 Copies, voicing the title himself and uploading it through ACX’s DIY pathway. As president of Out:think Group, Tim has worked with many authors and knows how to speak their language, which makes him the perfect guest to talk about his audiobook journey . Take it away, Tim.

Last week I announced the release of the audiobook edition of Your First 1000 Copies, produced via ACX. I originally had no plans to make an audio edition of Your First 1000 Copies, but my good friend and fellow author Josh Kaufman insisted on it.  Last year he self-published the audio edition of his first book The Personal MBA and has been completely overwhelmed by the success.  And since I do whatever Josh tells me to, I decided to go for it.

tim-headshotWho, how, and where to record?

The first decision I made was to record it myself. I listen to a lot of non-fiction audiobooks and my favorites are always the ones that are read by the book’s author. While they aren’t always as polished as a professional narrator, I appreciate hearing the author’s voice. I wanted listeners to hear my voice and how I talk about the subject. Sure, I made mistakes and wasn’t as eloquent as someone who does this for a living, but it was something I enjoy as a reader so wanted to do it for my readers.

The next decision was how and where to record. I read several places how self-published authors were doing it by recording straight through their desktop computer with a microphone, but I know the quality of these final recordings are often lacking. Plus, the idea of doing all of the editing myself seemed very overwhelming. In the end I decided to reach out to a friend I have who works at local radio stations and has a professional recording studio in his basement. It took two sessions that started after 9pm at night (which meant his kids were asleep and the house was quiet), but I was extremely happy with the final result.  It’s well edited and lacks the unpolished feel that would have come from doing it myself.  I’ll admit here that I also got it done for less than $400 which is significantly less than what you’ll spend with a typical studio.  It’s nice to have friends with the right equipment.

The recording process wasn’t too bad.  I printed the entire book out in large font and practiced turning the pages silently before heading to the studio.  I also practiced my volume and tempo a few times into my own computer to make sure I wasn’t going to fast or slow.  Again, while the final product isn’t as polished as it would be by a professional narrator, I’m very happy with how it turned out.

Just like self-publishing your digital and print books, quality matters.  People that listen to audiobooks are used to a certain level of quality, and I wanted to make sure my audiobook met those standards.  I’m happy with the decision to go with a recording studio whose job it was to make sure it was done right.jy2pdlpy1hgvv85n1380831492271

The Money

Here’s where things get really interesting.  The royalty model is unbelievable. On top of the royalties, Audible pays a $25 “bounty” if your book is one of the first three books purchased when someone signs up for Audible.  Again, pretty unbelievable.

I’m traditionally published, should I retain audiobook rights?

My definite answer is “yes!”.  In talking to other authors, the audiobook rights are often sold for very cheap — a couple thousand dollars — or never sold at all.  In the example of Josh Kaufman above, his rights were never sold so he bought them back from his publisher.  In the first week after self-publishing his audiobook, he made back the money he spent buying back the rights.

In fact, if you are still shopping your proposal and haven’t signed yet, I recommend holding back the audiobook rights (most publishers won’t fight you on this) and self-publish it.  There’s all kind of upsides to this, not least of which is all of the promotion for the print/digital sales will sell the audiobook edition as well.

That’s A Wrap!

In my experience, most authors have very little understanding or interest in the audiobook edition of their book. I hope this helped give you some information and insight that you didn’t have before.

Tim Grahl is an ACX author and president of Out:think Group. He invites you to take a free 30 day course on how to build your platform, connect with readers and sell more books by clicking here.

This Week in Links: October 21 – 25

ACXers in temperate climates are starting to feel that first chill in the air. Autumn is upon us, and with it thoughts of holiday fun and the year’s end. As 2013 winds down, use the links below to inform and educate yourself as you embark on your final audiobook productions of the year.

Remember, now is the time to get those audiobooks recorded and uploaded to ACX for your best chance of having them live on Audible in time for the holiday season.

For Producers:

The 5 Things You Should Be Doing NOW to Close Out the Year – via Dave Courvoisier’s Voice Over Blog – As the year’s end draws near, Dave has a 5-point checklist that will help VO’s wrap things up right.

Whittam’s World Episode 8: Acoustical Treatments for your Home Studio – via Edge Studio’s Youtube Channel – Home studio master George Whittam talks soundproofing in this informative video

Bed, Bath and Beyond – via Finding My Voice – Justin S. Barrett gets philosophical about life away from the microphone.

Why Restaurants And Voice Over Talents Fail – via Marc Scott Voiceover – Marc sees popular TV show “Restaurant Impossible” as a metaphor for VO failure – and success!

For Rights Holders:

Conflict—Giving LIFE to Your Fiction – via Kristen Lamb’s Blog – “Bad decisions make GREAT fiction.” Kristen tells you how to work that adage to your advantage

How Writing “Small Stones” Hones the Writer’s Craft – via The Alliance of Independent Authors – “Novelist Satya Robyn explains the meaning, process and value of writing “small stones” – tiny observational pieces of poetry or prose detailing something close at hand.”

Passion, Purpose, and Power: A Pep-Talk For Writers – via The BookBaby Blog – In need of a pick-me-up? BookBaby’s got you covered

Did you find some great audiobooks links this week? Tell us all about ’em!

ACX Success Story: Badwater – Part 2: Christine Padovan

Yesterday, we spoke with author Toni Dwiggins about her award-winning forensic geology title, Badwater. Today we check in with ACX producer Christine Padovan to hear her side of the Badwater story, and to get some amazing pieces of advice for producers and authors alike.

Hi Christine. Tell us a little about yourself, and your current audiobook projects.

I grew up in New Jersey, near historical Basking Ridge and did my degree in clinical psychology at NYU in New York City. I played and performed on the violin through my early 20’s and fell in love with books from the time I learned to read. Interestingly enough, I was narrating children’s books to kindergarten children when I was in 4th grade in a volunteer program at school.  So I guess I started narrating at a very early age and didn’t pick it up again till 2011 after my introduction on ACX.

Christine_HeadshotI recently  completed Her Marine which is book 5 of the Always a Marine series written by Heather Long; I’m narrating debut fiction novels for two new authors (Kyrathaba Rising by William Bryan Miller and Voodoo Moon (Paranorm World) by June Stevens/DJ Westerfield); book 3 of The Dragoneers series by M.R. Mathias, and continuing the Always a Marine series with books 6 and 12, next in line to record and produce.

What attracted you to Badwater?

I actually love mysteries and thrillers, so after meeting Toni through a self-published writer’s blog by D.D. Scott, and answering some of her questions on audiobook narrating, I auditioned for Badwater. After she and I tweaked character voices and got pronunciations down in an indexed list Toni provided, we were off and running.

What have you done to market Badwater?

I’ve done opted-in email blasts through www.targetedemailads.com; I’ve used Google ads as well as tweets and Facebook posts.  I Googled my name back in late May 2013 and found out through Goodreads that eFestivalofWords.com had nominated Badwater in the ‘Best Audiobook’ category.  So I told Toni, and we took advantage of the nomination to promote the book harder by posting our nomination logo, then our Finalist badge logo – and eventually, our Winner’s badge logo!  The San Francisco Self Published Writers group that Toni is part of also helped plug the book when we were nominated, then won the award.

That’s pretty exciting stuff! How did it feel when you found out Badwater had been nominated for “Best Audiobook?”

It felt great to be nominated, become a finalist and then actually win ‘Best Audiobook’ for 2013!  This was the first year that eFestivalofWords.com (for the Best of the Independent eBook Awards) actually had an Audiobook category.  They based their nominations on the book’s quality in its editing, cover art, styling, and recognition from other critic and reader reviews.

What advice do you have for authors who are considering having their titles made into audiobooks? 

Make sure you have the audio rights to your title or titles.  Check your contract with your publisher or agent for that book or books, and see who owns the audio rights. If you own the audio rights, post your work on ACX and search for voice types that you feel would fit the style and genre of your work. Listen to narrator samples and see how experienced the narrator is in audiobook production.  It’s O.K. if you wish to try out someone new, but asked for audition samples and check if you like the quality of their recording.

I also want to caution authors that want to rush the audiobook production of their work: taking the time to find the right narrator is far better than rushing to get your title online, then being disappointed with the final product.

Lastly, audiobook sales differ greatly from ebook/Kindle sales of the work.  For example, people are pickier in paying for an audiobook than only paying $.99, $1.99 or even $3.99 for the text version.  If they are going to spend money on an audiobook, they have to like the book’s retail sample (does the narrator’s voice make them want to buy it?), the subject matter and possibly the genre of the book before taking a chance on a new work where the author may not be well known to the public.  More people will go for ‘household’ author name first as a safety net, before taking a chance on a new writer.  So having the dollars set aside to really market the audio version to increase sales is vital as well.

Any advice for those new to audiobook narration/production?

For talent starting out in audiobook narration, you don’t need to have expensive equipment to get the job done.  A Zoom H4N digital recorder with phantom power and XLR ports for my RODE NT1-A condenser microphone and a clothing filled, relatively soundproofed, square 4’x6’ walk-in closet helped me produce over 25 titles on ACX and Audible.Badwater_CP_Studio

I would then transfer my 44.1/16 bit WAV files from the Zoom to my laptop for editing in Audacity.

Creating an audiobook is not for the faint-hearted!  It is many hours of your time – to learn narration first from a seasoned narrator and to then make sure you have the resources to either rent studio space or create your own to record in. Then, there’s the time it takes to record the book (roughly double the running time to record it and triple the running time to edit it). You’ll either pay an engineer to edit and master your WAV files into broadcast quality MP3s and/or spent the time and money to do it yourself.  It is far better to learn to edit and engineer yourself, as you can be sure there are no mistakes left behind in your recordings. And in the end you will feel so much better, knowing you helped take someone’s ‘baby’ and give it another life as an audiobook

The best advice I ever heard was to take a book, sit in a closet with a light on, close the door behind you, and start reading it outloud – try doing that without a break for about 30 minutes or so.  Are you comfortable?  Do you think you can do that for 4-6 hours a day, 5 days straight – with 2 days rest in between?  If you feel you can comfortably be in a tight space, whether it’s a closet or studio booth, and narrate out loud for long lengths of time (with apple slices, bottled water, lip balm, snack breaks, etc. to keep you going), then congratulations!  Narrating is for you!

Thanks for the tips, Christine!

What are the secrets to your ACX success? Tell us in the comments!

ACX Success Story: Badwater – Part 1: Toni Dwiggins

ACX Author Toni Dwiggings and producer Christine Padovan joined forces to produce the audio version of Badwater, which went on to win the Best Audiobook award at the 2013 eFestival of Words “Best of the Independent eBook Awards.” We recently spoke with Toni and Christine about their experience producing Badwater through ACX. Read Toni’s interview below, and check back tomorrow for our chat with Christine.

Hi Toni. Want to tell our readers a bit about yourself?

Badwater_Cover

I’m a third-generation Californian who migrated from southern Cal to northern Cal. What I like most about my state is that one can go from the ocean to the mountains in one day, with a lunch stop in the desert. I like it so much I’ve set my forensic geology books in those settings.

I’m author of a US History textbook, and have contributed to texts in the sciences. I’ve done tech-writing for the Silicon Valley computer industry, and that experience hatched an idea that became my first novel, about an attempt to sabotage the nation’s telephone system.

What drove you to have an audio version of Badwater produced?

I’ve long been an audiobook fan. The idea of listening to my book, as I’d listened to other books, was a thrilling prospect. Also, my daughter was a five-hour drive away at college and I thought, what better way for HER to pass the time than to listen to Mom’s book as the miles pass?

From a marketing standpoint, I was eager to get my book out there in multiple formats. Amazon has a terrific program called Whispersync for Voice, in which a reader/listener can switch back and forth between reading the book and listening to the audio version.

How did you hear about ACX as an avenue for your audiobook production?

On a writing forum, wherein authors endlessly discuss ways and means to reach readers—and listeners! On the audiobook threads, ACX was mentioned again and again as an accessible way to get a professional job done. Because I hold the rights to my books, I was able to be proactive in getting my book produced.

Dwiggins

ACX Author Toni Diwggins

What have you learned about the audiobook production process though ACX?

How diligently a narrator works to get the pronunciation right! My book is a science thriller, aimed at a general audience. However, the geologists and radiation workers, aka radworkers, know their stuff and speak accordingly. Christine and I decided to meet so I could pronounce some of the technical terms, so she could hear that tech-talk rhythm. We both live in the San Francisco Bay Area and so we met at an SF café.

Christine: “Is the ‘i’ in travertine long ‘i’ or ‘ee’?”

Me: ee.

Christine: “Is the second ‘t’ in strontium a hard ‘t’ or a ‘sh’?

Me: (realizing this woman had done her homework!): let’s go with the hard ‘t’ because that’s the way my radiation experts pronounce it.

And so on, with americium, caesium, plutonium, all those oh-my-God-iums. And it was partway through the pronunciation of nuclear fission products that I noticed that people at nearby tables were listening. Looking at us. A couple of hands resting on cellphones. Were they going to call Homeland Security?

Has having your audio version produced changed the way you see your book? Has it affected your writing? How?

Oh yes. Listening to the narration was a cracker jack way to analyze pacing and dialogue—lessons that I’m applying to works-in-progress. I’m also more acutely aware of how to translate the character voices I “hear” to the voices on the page—so that the voices come across as I intended.

Congratulations on winning the award for best audiobook! How did that go down?

Badwater’s nomination came as a surprise. Christine learned of it (if I recall correctly) when she saw a post on Goodreads. She emailed me, and my response was along the lines of WOO HOO! When listeners voted it best audiobook, I was thrilled that the story was reaching this new audience.

What’s your next project, and when will we see it on ACX?

The next book in my Forensic Geology Series: Volcano Watch. As soon as Christine and I can find time to get to work!

ACX Studio Gear Series: Home Studio Setup – Part 1

If you’re a regular reader of the ACX blog, you know we’ve been working our way through the list of items you’ll need for a professional sounding home recording studio. But what about the setup of the studio itself? Over the next few posts, we’ll be joined by expert and prolific producers from Audible Studios and ACX, who’ll offer their tips for the essential elements of home studio construction.

Today, we talk to ACX engineers, an author who built a home studio to narrate his own books, and our own Audible Studios staff about the importance of using high quality equipment and working with the noisy quirks of your unique recording space.

ACX: In your opinion, what are the most important elements of home studio construction?

Pete wVocal Booth_Small

Peter A. Rohan’s Queens, NY home studio

Peter A. Rohan, ACX Producer: You’ve got to start with the right equipment. Use a “quiet” mic that gives you the best frequency results for your voice.  Choose an interface with a good preamp that provides quality analog to digital (a/d) and digital to analog (d/a) conversion and that will not introduce a lot of noise. A budget mic and inferior interface can introduce an amount of noise and contribute to your overall noise floor.  I found that out the hard way, after exhausting all my energies in soundproofing and absorption only to find that it was the cheap mic that I was using that was generating most of my noise floor.

Darren Vermaas, Audible Studios Post-Production Associate:  Definately don’t skimp on the equipment.  Using proper gear in the first steps of recording is going to make your life a lot easier in the end.  Besides saving you time in post-production editing out noises and trying to figure out how to bring your overall noise floor down, it will simply make your book sound more professional.

Rob Granniss, Brick Shop Audiobooks: Get as good a mic, headphones, preamp and DAW as you can. Then get to know them as well as you can. Compare them with every other reference possible, including your laptop speakers, your cellphone, your audio geek friend’s sound system, etc. Listen to the same source material on each and note differences. Listen to your own recordings on those sources, as well as professionally produced recordings (voice as well as music if you’d like). The comparison isn’t to find what you like or what is “true” but rather to find what’s missing or is too enhanced about your own setup.

The "Brick Box," Brick Shop Audiobooks custom self recording studio, in Brooklyn, NY

The “Brick Box,” Brick Shop Audiobooks’ custom “self-record” studio, in Brooklyn, NY

Peter:  Also, be wary of cooling fans and keep them away from your mic.  Avoid recording with your laptop near the microphone or anything else with a cooling fan that turns on and off as the temperature fluctuates.

Darren: Get away from noises. That ticking clock, running refrigerator, dogs barking outside your window at the loud trucks driving by, and (of course) that fan running in your computer are all potential hazards.  These are all real things I’ve heard come through in recordings here. The last example is one of the most important to consider.

You will discover a lot of things about your room while you’re setting up a home studio.  Noises you’ve never paid mind to are going to start jumping out, and you’ll have to figure out how to deal with them.  When I needed to record vocals in my noisy 5 story apartment building with window AC units, you could find me hanging packing blankets and winter coats in my closet, positioning a microphone in there, and sweating it out while recording to make sure it sounded good. Not glamorous, and not comfortable, but it did sound good!

Stephen Woodfin’s home studio

Stephen Woodfin, ACX Author/Narrator:

Without a doubt the single best thing I did was to read and study the information on ACX about what is involved in the process of setting up a home studio.  I found that information practical and concise and used it as a blueprint each step along the way. I supplemented the ACX material by watching YouTube videos about the construction of home studios. In addition to watching videos, I read blogs and bought several books that provided more in depth discussions of audio production and equipment.  From these books I was able to determine which equipment was essential for my purposes and which optional. I also learned that it wasn’t necessary to buy the most expensive equipment available because there are economical ways to build a studio capable of producing first-rate audio without skimping.

Check back with us next week for more for more expert discussion on home studio setup!

What do you think is the most important aspect of building a home studio?

This Week in Links: October 7 – 11

We’re back with our latest installment of “This Week in Links.” We’ve rounded up our favorite videos and articles from around the audiobook world and listed them for you below. Enjoy some weekend reading, and embark on your next audiobook project as a better informed writer or producer!

For Rights Holders

10 Ways To Develop Confidence As A Writer – via Creative Thunder – “One sure way to become a writer is to write. Every day. With or without destination.”

How to Write a Great Death Scene – via Geek and Sundry Vlogs – Nika Harper offers her tips on write off a character.

How to Assign your Book to the Right Genre – via Chameleon Ink – “Getting the genre right further narrows down your target market and ensures that your book messaging addresses the right audience of readers.”

7 Guidelines For Writing a Nonfiction Book – via The BookBaby Blog – “For many would-be authors putting fingers to keys is the toughest part of the process. Here are seven suggestions to make it a little easier for you.”

For Producers

Mouth Noise – The Bane of a Voice Actor’s Life – via Anna Parker-Naples – Versatile voice actress talks about keeping mouth noise to a minimum.

Anatomy of a Movie Trailer – via Confessions of a Voiceover Artist – An interesting trip though the making of the audio portion of a movie trailer.

Time to Get That Perfect Mic – via Voice Over Garden – Jonathan Tilley offers his advice on what it takes to find the perfect fit for a lifetime of “quality jobs and stress free technical set up.”

Come back next week for more audiobook info, and share your favorite links form this week in the comments below!

Sneak Peak – ACX Audiobook Production Terms Glossary

How do you define success? Our latest effort to educate ACX actors and help them become better audiobook producers is an audio terminology glossary coming soon to the ACX website. But first, we wanted to give blog readers a sneak peek of a few key definitions.

  • Artifact:  Undesirable sounds around words, such as random, humming noises and metallic sounding breaths. Artifacts can be added to the original audio from excessive or incorrect noise reduction resulting from technical limitations.
  • Decibel (dB):  The standard unit of measurement used to represent sound volume or sound level. In the digital audio world, it is often assumed that when referring to “dB”, it actually refers to decibels relative to full scale (dBFS), where “0dBFS” represents the maximum possible digital level. This means that measurements in the digital audio realm are generally represented in negative values (-).
  • Edited Master:  Raw audio (unprocessed) that has gone through the editing/quality control pass (QC pass) stage. This form of audio has not been processed a.k.a. mastered, but has been edited and corrected (QC pass).
  • Headroom:  A term related to dynamic range expressed in decibels (dB), as the difference between the typical operating level, and the maximum operating level in an audio system. The maximum output level of a Digital Audible Workstation (DAW) is 0dB, though many DAWs have additional headroom built into the master fader which allows sound to be output between +3dBFS and +6dBFS. At Audible Studios, audiobook recordings are limited to a maximum peak of -3dB in order to leave headroom and avoid clipping (distortion caused by audio peaks exceeding 0dB). This limit allows for 3dB of headroom, leaving room for any surprise peaks that may occur when converting or exporting audiobooks to audible.com.
  • Limiter:  A type of compressor with a fast attack and release, and a fixed ratio of 20:1 or greater. The dynamic action effectively prevents the audio signal from rising above the output ceiling setting. See “Brickwall limiting” also.
  • Normalize:  The process of increasing all digital samples linearly, by the same amount, in order for the largest original sample to reach a given level, based on a peak or RMs value.

Which audiobook production terms do you think should be included in our glossary?

Social Media Tips For Voice Actors

We recently attended a webinar broadcast by the APA, hosted by Tavia Gilbert and featuring a panel of veteran narrators and publishers discussing social media for narrators. Today, we’ve selected our favorite tips that will help audiobook narrators navigate an online landscape that can at times seem overwhelming.

home2_r1_c3

  1. It’s better to do a few platforms, and do them well, than try and be everywhere. There are many social media networks out there, from Facebook and Twitter to Google+, Pinterest and others. People can sometimes feel the need to be everywhere, but it’s easy to bite off more than you can chew. You don’t have to be on any social media sites. Only branch out to social platforms you’re comfortable on.
  2. Build your brand. As an audiobook narrator/producer your brand should be your efficiency and skill, colored by your personality. For more established narrators, your brand is also your body of work. Everything you do online should be tie back to the image you’re trying to project to potential employers.
  3. A good website will help the less established get more work.  Make sure your site is professional looking, uncluttered and easy to navigate. Feature a raw, uncut video of yourself narrating on your site. This will show potential clients that you’re fluent and work quickly.
  4. Promote your client’s work. This is especially true for royalty share projects, where you have a vested interest in the sales of your titles. But even if you’ve been paid on a per-finished-hour basis, you can add to your value in the eyes of those doing the casting if you’re willing and able to help spread the word about their productions.
  5. Keep track of metrics, but don’t be a slave to the numbers. Track things like how many times your posts are shared or retweeted, and how many followers you’re gaining (Hootsuite and TweetDeck are two good services for tracking metrics). Make note of what types of content do well with your network and look to recreate those successes. But don’t get discouraged if you’re not adding followers as quickly as you’d like, or if your posts don’t immediately “go viral.”
  6. Be positive! Never post anything that could be interpreted as negative about your work or clients. It’s ok to vent about a long day in the studio or the neighbor’s lawnmower, but don’t complain about the book you’re producing being boring, or poorly written, or your employer being late with payment. The things you say online live forever, and are only a quick Google search away. Employers won’t want the hassle of dealing with a “loose cannon” on social media.

With these six pointers, you should be able to confidentially establish yourself on social media. Remember: keep it professional, keep it positive, and look at social media as a tool you use, not a slave driver you have to put all your energy into.

What have you done to find success on social media?

This Week in Links: September 30 – October 4

The end of the week means it’s once again time for our roundup of links from the online audiobook world. Informative and entertaining articles and videos abound for actors and authors, so get readin’ and join us next week for more audiobook excitement!

For Producers:

Hard To Believe… – Via Dave Courvoisier’s Voice Over Blog – 2013 is almost over, and Dave’s got a year-end checklist for voiceover actors.

…It’s the Principle of the Thing! – via Road To Introspection – Terry Daniels offers his perspective on the narrator as a small business.

Professional Home Recording Studio Tour, Advice, Tips, and Tricks – via Jordan Reynolds – Informative video tour of a professional home studio.

I’m The Original Voice Of SIRI – via CNN – The voice behind the iPhone’s virtual assistant is finally revealed.

For Rights Holders:

Writing A Series? Tips From A Superstar – Via CreateSpace – ACX author Bella Andre discusses the pros, cons, do’s and don’ts of writing a connected series.

Techniques and Tension in “Breaking Bad” – via Huff Post Books – “Any writer who wants to learn about the art of developing tension in a manuscript would do well to watch, and learn from, AMC’s Breaking Bad.” (Caution – spoilers within!)

Website Tips For Authors – via The Bookbaby Blog – BookBaby’s sister site, HostBaby, offers best-practices to smarten-up your online book marketing.

GalleyCat’s Freelance Editor Directory – via GalleyCat – “A free, automatically updated directory where editors can post their services and writers can seek freelance editors.”

Did you find some great audiobook related content this week? Leave your favorite links below!

Producer Advice from Kevin Pierce

ACX strives to help actors become entrepreneurs, by providing resources that allow voiceover actors to evolve into audiobook producers and marketers. Today we’ve got more advice from one of ACX’s chief entrepreneurs, Kevin Pierce. You may know Kevin as the producer with the most ACX titles available for sale on Audible, Amazon and iTunes. Read on to find out how using ACX between other narration jobs turned into a deluge of audiobook production work.

Taking Care of Business

It was just about a year ago that I discovered ACX as I was looking for a way to “fill in the gap” between audiobook productions for another studio. Today, ACX is the source of most of my audiobook business.

For me, too much of the voiceover and narration business came in fits and starts — a flood and then an ebb. I was looking for a way to develop a steady flow of business.

In January, I jumped into ACX with both feet to find out whether I could make such a business of it — whether ACX was capable of supplying regular work at the volume I desired. Since then, I’ve been producing ACX titles non-stop, two to three finished hours per day, five or more days each week.

My ACX dashboard tells me I’m about to wrap up production on my 117th title through ACX. Roughly half of these were pay per-finished-hour, the other half were royalty-share. And of 300+ finished hours in my royalty-share portfolio, many have had an ACX production stipend. In a matter of just months, my royalty-share books have sold more than 5,000 copies and I’m adding new titles to the list every week. Just like a healthy stock portfolio, I have a few stellar performing titles and a couple handfuls of solid sellers that round things out.

Several things have helped:

  • ACX’s Title Search. Even when a project has my desired per-finished-hour rate or is a royalty share with production stipend, I only audition for those titles that I feel are right for my range and style. I can easily narrow down the 3,000 titles open for audition on ACX using the title search. And when projects are right, I audition for all of them.
  • Regular Communication. While the ACX system does a fine job of notifying rights-holders of next steps required of them the production process, I like to keep my rights-holders up to date on what’s going on in my production workflow.
  • Underpromise and overdeliver. At 2 to 3 finished hours per day, I can get through a project pretty quick. But by building some extra time in the production schedule to ensure nothing throws it off track, I often surprise rights-holders with an earlier-than-expected delivery of their final project.

With the per-finished-hour books and ACX stipends which pay upon a production’s completion, and the royalty and bonus checks which come every month, ACX has become much more than a way to fill in a gap between productions, it has become a full-time flow of audiobook production and a full-time business.

How has ACX allowed you to take  control of your voiceover career?